Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
- Joshua 5:13-14a
Whose side is God on? His own. He’s on his own side. He doesn’t join our team or get behind our cause. He has his own priorities, his own purpose, and his own mission.
That’s not to say that there’s no such thing as right or wrong (there is!) or that there’s no such thing as good and evil (there is!). God is always right and good. And that means that he’s always on his own side.
God, are you a Democrat or a Republican? Neither.
God, are you a Duke fan or a Carolina fan? Neither.
God, are you siding with me or with my in-laws? Neither.
God, are you for us or for our enemies?
We can so easily see 1,001 reasons why God wouldn’t side with our enemies. They’re our enemies. We know what’s wrong with them! So, we can easily assume that the Lord must side with us (“the enemy of my enemy is my ally”).
If ever that was true it would have been true in today’s passage. Joshua represented God’s very own people who were doing exactly what God had commanded them to do. Surely, God must have been on their side. But the commander of the army of the Lord said “Neither.” Neither side owns God. He’s free to make his own decisions, to make his own choices, to take his own initiative. He isn’t entangled in alliances. He’s on his own side.
And God’s side is always the side of goodness, righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, and mercy. Beautiful and broken people will always find him to be a wonderful and terrible ally. He always wants our best and the best for our community, even if that means he has to oppose us to our face.
The Lord turns our side-taking questions sideways. When we ask him side-taking questions, he asks us back: “Whose side are you on?” He wants our whole-hearted allegiance to rest with him. He will only ever be on his own side, the side that works fiercely for our good. Will we join him?
In what ways do you choose allegiance to Jesus over other allegiances? How has that been costly for you? How has that been a blessing to you?